- Hit the library – hard! Don’t look at a library as just a place to get old books. Look at it as a free place to do all sorts of things. I know people who have used the library to learn a foreign language, meet people, use the Internet anonymously, check out movies and CDs, grab local free newspapers, and keep up on community events. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.
- Read more: Reading is one of the cheapest – and most beneficial – hobbies around. Most towns have a library available to the public – just go there and check out some books that interest you. Then, spend some of your free time in a cozy place in your house, just reading away. You’ll learn something new, improve your reading ability, enjoy yourself, and not have to spend a dime.
- Read magazines at the library or online. Too many magazines can cost a fortune. And how many times have you bought a magazine based on the cover and been disappointed by the lack of substance. At the library you can read magazines for free. And many magazines now offer their content for free online.
- Borrow or Swap books, CD’s & DVD’s rather than purchasing them: Borrowing books and reading magazines at your local library, rather than purchasing reading material, can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Try a book swap where you can get credit for books you turn in and apply to books you are “purchasing” to read.
- Attend high school rather than college or pro sports events. High school sports events rarely cost more than $5 and are often free, with hot dogs and sodas typically costing $1-2. College and pro football and basketball games rarely cost less than $20, and their concessions are usually several times more expensive.
o Check out what your town’s parks and recreation board has to offer: My town has several wonderful parks, free basketball and tennis courts, free disc golf, trails, and lots of other stuff just there waiting to be used. You can go have fun for hours out in the wonderful outdoors, playing sports, hiking on trails, or trying other activities – and it’s all there for free. All you have to do is discover it.
o Dig into your community calendar: There are often tons of free events going on in your town that you don’t even know about. Stop by the local library or by city hall and ask how you can get ahold of a listing of upcoming community events, and make an effort to hit the interesting ones: You can often get free meals, free entertainment, and free stuff just by paying attention – even better, you’ll get in touch with what’s going on around you.o PaperBackSwap.com allows you to list books you’d like to swap with other members. They boast over 4.5 million available books, and books are mailed to you for free.
o It doesn’t get much better than Amazon.com . They have just about every book imaginable, and you can buy almost all of them used.
o Check out thrift stores for used books
o Swaptree.com has a cool service that allows you to trade your books, CDs, and DVDs with others online. The service is free, the only expense is the shipping cost of your item.
o SwapADVD.com is similar to PaperBackSwap.com, but it’s for DVDs! Watch your favorites and discover more with this simple DVD exchange service. The cost is just about as low as you can go.
Get rid of unread magazine subscriptions: Do you have a pile of unread magazines sitting around your house? Likely, it’s the result of a subscription that you’re not reading. Not only should you not renew that magazine, you should give their subscription department a call and try to cancel for a refund – sometimes, they’ll give you the prorated amount back. I’ve had to cull my subscriptions in the past, but I’ve never regretted it.
Subscribe to magazines that are must reads. If you must have a certain magazine each month, subscribe. Subscriptions offer substantial savings over the cost at the newsstand. Update: Amazon offers some great deals on personal finance magazines .
Cancel unused club memberships: Are you paying dues at a club that you never or rarely use? Like, for instance, a gym membership or a country club membership? Cancel these club memberships, even if you think you might use them again someday – you can always renew the membership at a later date if it turns out that you actually do miss it.
Cut down on your vacation spending: Instead of going on a big, extravagant trip, pack up the car and see some of America some years for vacation. One of the best vacations I’ve ever taken was when my son was an infant – we just packed up the car and drove around Minnesota, eventually camping for a few days along the north shore of Lake Superior. For a week long relaxing vacation, it was incredibly cheap and quite memorable, too.
Eliminate some cable service: Note that I’m not recommending getting rid of cable completely, although that’s certainly a way to save money. If you must have cable, take a look at all the charges on your cable bill and consider getting rid of some of the service. Try it for a month and see if you really miss those last 500 channels.
o Give up premium cable channels or better yet, cable all together. It's a lot cheaper to rent one film a week than watch one on premium cable channels that may cost more than $500 a year.
o Slow down your internet service: A friend of mine went to the slower internet service option with their cable company and saved $15 per month. He claims he hasn't noticed a difference when surfing the Net.
- Consider MythTV PVR in replace of TiVo type services. A friend just ran across MythTV and although still investigating it, they like it so far. He pays $15 a month to his cable company for a DVR box and would love to save that money.
- Don’t go to stores or shopping centers for entertainment: Doing so is just an encouragement to spend money you don’t really have on stuff you don’t really need. Instead, find other places to entertain yourself – the park, the basketball court, a museum, a friend’s house, or even in your own home. Don’t substitute shopping for entertainment and you’ll be way better off.
- Don’t spend big money entertaining your children: Most children, especially young ones, can be entertained very cheaply. Buy them an end roll of newspaper from your local paper and let their creativity run wild. Make a game out of ordinary stuff around the house, like tossing pennies into a jar, even. Realize that what your children want most of all is your time, not your stuff, and you’ll find money in your pocket and joy in your heart.